The Larger Picture on Election Day

The commentators this morning are missing the point. It is not America that is at a crossroads; it is Western Civilization, and the problem is much bigger than the GOP, the Dems, and the occupant of the Oval Office combined.

I acknowledge, however, that rapid civilizational decline does not make great television. That said, historians of the future will look back on TV news as Nero’s fiddle.

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The Comey Dilemma 

The discussions about the Steele dossier — which Comey recounts for the first time in his book — are among a number of explosive revelations in “A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership,” a 304-page tell-all in which the former FBI director details his private interactions with Trump as well as his handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation.

Source: James Comey’s memoir: Trump fixates on proving lewd dossier allegations false – The Washington Post

I am conflicted about Comey and his memoir. On the one hand, Comey may have information and insights that could help us better understand the character and motives of the current Oval Office occupant.

On the other, I am uncertain of Comey’s own character and motives surrounding his actions around both the Clinton e-mail debacle and the Russia investigation. To what degree is Comey serving the Law, the Constitution, and the Republic? To what degree was he driven by the unseen hand of personal ambition or political design?

We simply do not know.

Fortunately, the issues upon which Comey expounds need not be adjudicated in his memoir. We have Robert Mueller, his team, an as-yet-neutral Justice Department, and a small but elite corps of independent journalists on the case.

But we need to know about James Comey. We need to know how much he can be trusted. And, ideally, we need to know before the wheels of history have made the question and Comey aught more than a footnote in the drama of the Siberian Candidate.

American Heydrich

If Corey Lewandowski proved nothing else in the course of his testimony to the House Intelligence Committee, he proved this:

The man is a thug in a suit, and nothing more.

There were days when his diction and demeanor would have seen him charged with contempt of Congress. I’m glad he was not so charged: to have done so would have made him a martyr. Now anyone outside of the Trump Base can see clearly that the best place for the man is in a cell at Leavenworth alongside Roger Stone and Paul Manafort.

Think of this: even the members of the Cosa Nostra called to testify before the Kefauver Committee showed more courtesy and deference. Even the hostile witnesses in the McCarthy hearings were more dignified and polite.

Corey Lewandowski deserves aught more than the contempt of every self-respecting conservative, and the deepest pit of ignominy that history can find for him.

Trump’s West Wing and the Hill

Trump faces a challenge similar to the one Ronald Reagan confronted and had only partial success in overcoming: namely, that of finding enough good people to take the reins of government. Without the president discovering better new talent, the usual suspect will quickly return: the ones who gave us the Iraq War and whose economics led to the Great Recession.

Source: Donald Trump’s Triumph | The American Conservative

Yesterday, my old friend and schoolmate Howard Bliss asked me if I could beg a single boon of the President-Elect, what would that be?

I said, simply: “Appoint an absolutely stellar cabinet. Then listen to them.”

Dan McCarthy over at the American Conservative points out that this is going to be a tough job. Elected as an outsider, Trump cannot resort to using the usual suspects who will simply revive failed policies of the past. At the same time, he needs people who can help him navigate the frustrating complexities of Capitol Hill and the government bureaucracy. This task will test every ounce of Trump’s executive abilities, and his appointments will tell us much.

A relatively weak White House is an opportunity for Congress to restore a balance of power between the two ends of Pennsylvania Avenue. They must absolutely do it. But they can only do so if they are well led and determined – individually and as a group – to do so.

This is where Republicans and Democrats can find common ground, and should work together. Congress is on a long, meandering path toward becoming a rubber-stamp legislature, Constitutional guarantees notwithstanding. That trend needs to be arrested, and now is the moment in history to do so.

The Trump Era Dawns

On the global stage Trump’s populism and nationalism makes him very much a man of his times, with parallels to figures as diverse as Marine Le Pen, Recep Tayyip Erdogan and of course Vladimir Putin. But in the American context he is like nothing we have seen before — a shatterer of all norms and conventional assumptions, a man more likely to fail catastrophically than other presidents, more constitutionally dangerous than other presidents, but also more likely to carry us into a different political era, a post-neoliberal, post-end-of-history politics, than any other imaginable president.

Source: The Trump Era Dawns

We walk a very narrow bridge with this President.

This is not the time to give up, tune out, and go back to The Way We Lived Before. The Trump Era demands a new kind of American Citizenship, one that is constantly informed, regularly engaged, and frequently activist.

This president and the Congress are going to need to hear from us, and we’re going to need to be more visible, more thoughtful, and more persuasive than ever to get our points across.

Welcome to the Trump Era.

Now get busy.